Also By This Author
“The generosity of vision that characterizes Dr. Coles’s enterprise enables him to create a climate where words of great beauty and truthfulness can be spoken. . . . The great achievement of Dr. Coles’s methoda method that can only be called open, self-critical listeningis that it allows us access to thoughts and perceptions that touch us in the way great religious art does.”The New York Times Book Review
The Political Life of Children
Atlantic Monthly Press
978-0-87113-771-5 • $13.50 • Paperback • Mar. 2000
This searching inquiry represents the newest investigation
by one of the nation’s best-known and best-loved child psychiatrists, author of
many volumes including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Children of Crisis
series. This book, together with its companion volume, The Moral Life of
Children, has been under preparation for a decade.
Children learn, not only their language and religion and
morality, but their politics at their mothers’ knee. The ways they learn about
political life are more sophisticated, for good or ill, than we have tended to
suspect, and they vary everywhere. In analyzing the influence on children of
family, religion, culture, and a dozen other factors, Robert Coles throws new
light on the way politics enters our lives in our early years.
The Political Life of Children deals with children
all over the world, from Quebec to Cambodia, from Poland to Brazil, from Ulster
to South Africa. Dr. Coles goes to children with willing ears, wonderful
sensitivity, a sheet of paper, a box of crayons. In his pages you will hear
children telling him what they know and how they feel about political life; and
seen in their own drawings what they take pride in, and how they imagine their
Read about the Cape colored girl in South Africa who never
used a black crayon to draw her self-portrait; about the Cambodian boy who
could not remember his murdered mother’s face; about the ways in which Northern
Irish children view the Queen; about the symbolism of flags and churches,
languages and schools, in children’s political lives.
Though Dr. Coles has won many awards for his previous books
and his original and courageous work with children over the past twenty-five
years, The Political Life of Children may well be his masterpiece.